March 8th, 2021, marked the 10-year anniversary of CHILDREN OF BODOM’s seventh studio album, “Relentless, Reckless Forever.” As the album was published, it went straight to number 1 on the Finnish Album Chart and received a gold record. To celebrate the occasion, it was time to take a look back and give the album a proper spin.
As the album was originally released, I admit I was very surprised and confused by the direction Laiho and the rest of the band had taken. If you listen through CHILDREN OF BODOM’s discography, “Relentless, Reckless Forever” sticks out, and quite distinctively if you ask me. The sound of the album is something entirely different from the rest of the band’s material. It is still heavy and rough but with a round, even soft overlay – some might even describe it as someway muffled or mellow.
Don’t get me wrong – the songs were undoubtedly BODOM, but as if they were played with some other band’s instruments. This “muffled roughness,” as my very professional and accurate description goes, can be heard throughout the album, but especially in “Not My Funeral,” “Shovel Knockout,” as well as in the co-melody of guitar and keyboards in “Reckless, Relentless Forever” itself.
”I’m a raw loose cannon till the end
To the depths of hell, you, I will send”
As a whole, “Relentless, Reckless Forever” was purely what CHILDREN OF BODOM was about: fast songs with complex guitar solos and lyrics that were all about flipping the finger to the world and pouring out all the hate, anger, and pain that consumed the heart and soul. Songs such as ”Not My Funeral,” ”Pussyfoot Miss Suicide,” and “Ugly” offered pure anger as ”Roundtrip to Hell and Back” took the mood to a calmer, though in no way lighter direction. So, basic BODOM one might say.
As clichéd as it might sound, my favorite tracks from the album ended up being the single releases “Ugly” and “Was It Worth It?,” the latter becoming my anthem for those hangover mornings after coming home way too late after attending a student party. Those two songs also remained on the band’s setlist as years went by – though neither of them made the cut as CHILDREN OF BODOM played their final gig in December 2019, as the band decided to go with “Shovel Knockout” instead.
However, the album also had its confusing moments (in addition to the sound), mainly with the ending track “Northpole Throwdown,” which lacked that final punch in the face which in my opinion was otherwise quite common with BODOM‘s ending tracks.
“Relentless and there’s no way I’m giving up
I dare you make me stop
Reckless, shattered dreams and broken ribs
Annihilated into bits
Forever, I’ll stay on the run.”
The album was the first time that the band worked with Matt Hyde as the producer. According to Laiho’s biography “Kitara, Kaaos & Kontrolli” (“Chaos, Control & Guitar”) this was due to the fact that the new American management wished the producer to be one of their countrymen. It is somewhat fruitless to speculate to what extent Hyde influenced to the new sound heard on the album. The cooperation didn’t continue as CHILDREN OF BODOM returned to work with Peter Tägtgren on their next album, “Halo of Blood.”
But what did Laiho himself think about the album? In the early 2019, Kerrang requested Alexi Laiho to rank CHILDREN OF BODOM albums. “Relentless, Reckless Forever” held the last place, as Laiho described the album as follows:
“This is pretty fucking brutal, I tell you, because it’s like I’ve got to pick my least favourite kid. But I’m sure everyone secretly has one so I’ll go with this. I actually listened to it recently and there’s a couple of cool tracks, but the rest of them don’t make any fucking sense. Just a whole lot of riffs at high speed that don’t make up a song. At the time it seemed like doing something different was the right thing to do, but maybe that change was too thought out.”
Writing this anniversary review just a couple of months after receiving news of Alexi Laiho’s passing felt truly strange. After the news break, I came across interview from March 2011 by Revolver, where Laiho shed light on the story behind the albums opening track “Not My Funeral”:
“It sounds pretty dark but someone who used to be pretty close to me told me, “Dude, you’re going to die,” that they had got a professional opinion and it was that I was going to die in the next 10 years, and that got me so fucking pissed off. I don’t need someone who’s never met me saying that.”
Safe to say I won’t be listening to that song the same way ever again.
”Whisper me softly that I’m gonna die young
Before you do take a look into the ground
It’s not my funeral”
Written by Essi N.
- Not My Funeral
- Shovel Knockout
- Roundtrip to Hell and Back
- Pussyfoot Miss Suicide
- Relentless Reckless Forever
- Cry of the Nihilist
- Was It Worth It?
- Northpole Throwdown
Alexi Laiho – lead vocals, lead guitar
Roope Latvala – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Jaska Raatikainen – drums
Henkka Seppälä – bass guitar, backing vocals
Janne Wirman – keyboards
Spinefarm, Universal Music